October 3, 2023

Editor’s note: This blog post originally appeared on CoSN’s blog and is reposted here with permissions.

When it comes to students in the classroom, they want to feel ownership and control of their learning. According to the American Institutes for Research, encouraging student agency is beneficial because:

  • students who believe their knowledge can grow over time perform better on IQ tests,
  • those with a growth mindset are more likely to set academic goals focused on mastering content versus studying for a test score or course grade,
  • students who set mastery-focused goals tend to process information in a deeper and more organized fashion, and
  • the skills and behaviors that learner agency fosters are positively related to higher education and career outcomes.

During CoSN’s Driving K-12 Innovation 2022-23 cycle, our esteemed Advisory Board of about 100 educators and technologists agreed that learner agency is, indeed, one of the top three accelerators in education today. Download the 2023 Driving K-12 Innovation Report: Hurdles + Accelerators to learn more.

About learner agency

In CoSN’s 2023 Hurdles + Accelerators Report, we define Learner Agency as:

Learner Agency is a combination of the will and the skill to learn. It is about students as active choice-makers in their education and about reconceptualizing their role from that of “student” to that of “learner.” Combined with a strong learning environment, students are able to transform from order-takers to innovators, experience the state of “flow,” and learn far more authentically. In order for schools to facilitate learner agency, they must also encourage educator agency. Learner agency is essential for lifelong learning and requires a different approach to school structure and practices. Truly embracing learner agency will require transforming education systems. This Accelerator is deeply intertwined with Personalization.

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